Hull-based meat processing giant Cranswick said in a first-quarter trading update that revenue in the 13 weeks to June 24, 2023, was 14.7 % ahead of the same period last year.
“Trading in the first quarter of the new financial year has been strong with demand remaining resilient in our core categories …” said the FTSE 250 firm, which employs 13,700 people.
“Consequently, the outlook for the current financial period is now expected to be ahead of the board’s previous expectations.”
The strong trading came despite the UK pig herd contracting “significantly” over recent months in response to the rapid escalation in feed costs following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
Cranswick said the average UK pig price across the quarter increased 28% compared to the same period last year.
Cranswick added: “UK revenue across all four food product categories was ahead year-on-year, underpinned by positive volume momentum in our Fresh Pork, Convenience and Gourmet products categories.
“Poultry volumes were modestly below the equivalent period last year with lower Cooked Poultry volumes partly offset by strong growth in Breaded Poultry.
“Export sales were lower with Far East volumes remaining subdued reflecting the anticipated seasonal slowdown in demand in China.
“Cost inflation continues to be proactively managed and mitigated through tight cost control and ongoing recovery, albeit the rate of inflation is now starting to slow.
“Accelerated investment in automation projects and a relentless focus on delivering cost saving initiatives, allied to the affordability and value for money of our core pork and poultry categories, continue to drive our competitive advantage.
“The UK pig herd has contracted significantly over recent months in response to the rapid escalation in feed costs following the outbreak of war in Ukraine in 2022.
“Therefore, many independent producers have chosen to cut back or cease production entirely in response to the unprecedented inflationary pressures.
“This sustained tightening of supply resulted in the average UK pig price across the quarter increasing by 28 per cent compared to the same period last year.
‘Our self-sufficiency is now approaching 50 per cent as we continue to invest in and expand our pig herd to ensure we have the required quantity and quality of pigs to service our customers’ requirements.
“We expect further sector consolidation, and we will continue to expand our farming capability to ensure continuity of supply, full farm-to-fork traceability, leadership in response to the challenges of sustainability and maintaining the highest animal welfare standards.
“Our Pet Products business continues to make strategic progress with the £10 million capital investment programme progressing to plan. The stock build is also underway ahead of the launch into Pets at Home later in the year.”